Some Dense-Ass Bread
I’ve been obsessed since winter with recreating Mestemacher bread — the dark, seedy bread from Germany that comes with only six slices hermetically sealed and sold on the lowest possible bread shelf at my local Amazon, I mean, Whole Foods store. I like that bread, however, it’s expensive and despite that it’s organic and doesn’t have any preservatives, I don’t always love it because it tends to taste a little stale and no matter the variety, it also tends to always taste the same.
So I decided to try to make it myself, and I quickly realized that since my goal was not to make a dough rise pillow-like, but instead focus on the nutrient content, that a lot of my bread-baking-anxiety faded. Leaden is to be celebrated, especially when the bulky weight means a lot of nutrition and high-quality fuel. Most days just one hearty slice of this with a dollop of butter or a slice of avocado keeps me going me for hours.
Ok, let’s talk gluten. I think by now everyone knows my feelings about gluten. Yes, I do believe that it can be a trigger for a garden variety of ills, but I also believe that it’s not the source of all evil. This contrarian view in my hamlet of Boulder, of course, places me on the opposite side of the fence of about 90% of the women and a handful of navel-gazing, I mean, overly-health conscious, men in town. No, I do not endorse eating all-purpose white flour pancakes for breakfast, French-style baguette sandwiches for lunch, and pasta with a side of bread for dinner. But should we feel guilty, or heaven-forbid, deny ourselves a slice of freshly baked bread, the occasional exquisite croissant, a batch handmade fresh pasta, a slice of artisan pizza, or even, dare I say, the odd bagel from the independent bakery down the street? No! Indulge occasionally because the word on the street is that you only live once! Of course, if you’re celiac, blow-up like pufferfish or have some other verifiable gluten-induced medical condition, by all means, then steer clear.
The recipe below can be made with all different kinds of flours and even ancient grains. The ratio of three cups flour to 1 1/2 cups water is what seems to be most important. I’ve used mixtures of all-purpose white (I know, I know –the horror!), whole wheat, rye, and spelt flour– all organic. Most recently I made a loaf (the one in the pictures) that was technically gluten-free in that I used only rye and spelt flours, but if you are celiac these flours might be off-limits. Even though I wouldn’t use it for this recipe, I also never use gluten-free mixes because I think they usually contain a lot of junk like tapioca, rice flour, potato starch and xanthan gum, etc.
The other equation in this dense-ass bread is the amount of nuts and seeds. I generally keep the ratio around three cups flour to three or three and a half cups nuts and seeds. I have used the following: ground flax, millet, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chia, and walnuts — sometimes all of them, and sometimes just whatever I had on hand.
So it’s fairly easy recipe to memorize and quite flexible:
Total 3 cups flour – your choice
Total 3 1/2 cups nuts and seeds – your choice
1 1/2 cups water
1 packet of yeast
2 teaspoons salt